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The Life and Times of a Crusader King

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Anointed king today by the bishop in Nidaros Cathedral. Praise be to God, through whom all things are possible, who in his heavenly wisdom granted me the thrones of Norway, Denmark, and Croatia. May I rule wisely and well, doing honor to my father on earth and my Father in Heaven, and be remembered after my passing as Haakon the Great.

I'm going to be the best king ever.

Famous writer has proposed to write the chronicle of my family! Must keep good notes for posterity. Not these, of course -- something more suitably edited.

Search for bride has begun. Disappointingly few eligible females in Europe right now. Or perhaps chancellor has not done good job of assembling list. Only want a woman young enough to bear children, who shall be a good steward of my lands, capable of great courtesy with my allies and enemies, and shrewd enough to serve as my spymaster, since current one is sad disappointment. Is that too much to ask?

New chancellor doing better. Has proposed match with daughter of Hungarian count; she seems eligible enough. V. shrewd, certainly. I don't speak Hungarian, though. She doesn't speak Norwegian. Chancellor assures me this will not be a problem.

I have a son! Glory be to God, etc.

In celebration, have decided to press claim to Orleans. Next king will need nice summer home.

Have a daughter now.

Son died.

Turns out there is disadvantage to not speaking Hungarian. Wife has been plotting against me. (Memo to self: don't make wife spymaster unless absolutely sure of loyalty.) Possibly she knows I assassinated her brother. Only wanted our son to inherit estates in Hungary; is that too much to ask?

Seems a bit pointless now w/o son, though. Not likely to get one, either, with wife in prison and all. Should look into possibility of mistresses.

Eligible princesses do not like me v. much. Is this because of mistresses? Or because imprisoned wife for three years? Only did that because she was plotting against me. No plotting = no prison. Simple as that. Besides, wife dead now. Let bygones be bygones.

Did successfully betroth daughter to English heir. Must wait for daughter to grow up, alas, before arranging anything more. ("King of Norway, Denmark, Croatia, and England" does have nice ring, though. And never too early to think of future generations.)

Have backup bastard, at least. Can always legitimize him if nothing better comes along.

King of Sweden being insufferable git. Think he wants to invade me. Perhaps Pope will call crusade to distract him.

No crusade this year. Tried to get Pope to let me declare war on King of Sweden. Pope asked what heresy he had committed. (Apparently wrong to make war on good Christian kings.) Told him, heresy of being an insufferable git. Pope not convinced.

Crusade! Perhaps I can find a wife on the road. Pickings in Norway v. slim.

Have decided to give this full attention, i.e. lots of gold. Coffers nicely full since claiming Kildare, Naxos, and Orleans as long-lost "ancestral" estates. Memo to self: find nice Christmas gift for chancellor, in exchange for all his hard work.

Crusade not as fun as advertised. Holy Land v. long way from Norway, even with ships. Also, very hot. Much time spent roasting in armor. Thought I had found Spear of Destiny; turns out four other crusaders thought same thing.

But victory against the infidels! Better still, other kings apparently not v. excited about this Crusade. Pope says, Norway contributed most, so Norway gets it all. Am now King of Norway, Denmark, and Croatia, Duke of Trøndelag, Ostlandet, Alexandria, and Aleppo, Count of Naumadal, Hålogaland, Finnmark, Nordland, Færeyar, Trøndelag, Kemi, Schwaben, Orleans, Kildare, Naxos, Alexandria, Quattara, Gizeh, Buhairya, and Al Alamayn, and Baron of Steinvikholm. (Slightly unwieldy. Should probably give some of these to underlings.)

Truly, God is most generous to those who serve him. Future generations will know me as Haakon the Conqueror.

Uprising back home. Damned uppity jarls. Think that just because I am on other side of known world, will not notice revolt. Have raised levies to put them down. Slight difficulty on account of half of levies fighting for other side, but will prevail nonetheless.

In better news, have new wife! Found surprise Christians in Africa. Nubian lady, seems nice enough. Already pregnant, so that's a good start.

Home again. Had forgotten how much I missed snow. (Wife not so fond.)

Rebellious jarls mostly dead. Heirs imprisoned. Toddlers not very good at plotting escape. Will send favored vassals to rule in Holy Land, then maybe settle in, improve agriculture or something.

Fostered bastard son with vassal in Kildare. Also, have another daughter. Need actual heirs! Backup bastard not enough.

Aaaaaand another daughter.

Will not imprison wife for spawning girls. I like her too much.

Chancellor tells me certain courtier is possessed. Thought "possession" meant foaming at the mouth, not plotting assassination against chancellor. Still, neither one is good. Have imprisoned courtier with heirs of rebellious jarls. (Possession hopefully not contagious.) Have imprisoned courtier's wife, too. Better to be on safe side.

Got syphilis somewhere. Possibly in Holy Land. What have I done to deserve this?

Rebellion in Holy Land. Lost Aleppo. Locals apparently not fond of being made Christian.

Have decided am insufficiently pious. Founded monastery to make up for it. Pope v. pleased. Still won't let me declare war on Sweden, though. Decided to bury hatchet with Sweden instead, despite king being insufferable git. Betrothed second daughter to Swedish son. Future generations will remember me as Haakon the Peacemaker.

Dammit! Mistress from years ago turns out to have been own bastard sister. High on "list of things Father should have mentioned." Backup bastard is therefore inbred. Still have hope for him, though, owing to lack of actual sons.

Will console self by sending spymaster to filch technology from other nations.

Eldest daughter now Queen of England! Will not inquire too closely into circumstances of previous king's death. (Precocious girl. Wedding was only one month ago.) If she has son, may just give up on current generation and pass thrones to him. Four kingdoms would be rather nice.

Have itchy feet. Last war much too long ago. Might look for pagan kingdom to declare holy war against, for change of pace. Or have chancellor cook up some kind of claim in Spain. Wife has become v. fond of oranges, but they do not grow well in Norway, even with agricultural improvements.

Eldest daughter now has son. Was good news, until inbred bastard's foster father rebelled in support of claim. Forced to legitimize bastard to prevent war. (Cannot afford war; busy trying not to lose Alexandria.) Wife not happy. Cannot even get her oranges as consolation; see above re: not losing Alexandria.

This business of ruling places scattered across Europe and the Holy Land is hard.

King of Poland just died.

Mother was Polish princess.

I smell opportunity.

Long live the King of Poland! Thank you, Mother.

Inbred former bastard is now of age. Dammit. Why did I ever legitimize him? Grandson much more promising. (Or daughter, for that matter.) Do not want to miss opportunity to join England to Norway, Denmark, Croatia, and Poland.

Must discuss this with spymaster.

Spymaster dislikes notion of assassinating inbred former bastard. Apparently draws line at blood relatives. (Pansy.) Find self missing first wife; she would have done it. New wife v. nice, but not so good at intrigue.

Is it too late to get new bastard? Will make sure mistress not related this time.

On second thought, no. Do not want to be known as Haakon the Skirt-Chaser.

Think eldest daughter is scheming to get throne of France for husband. Potentially problematic; Orleans is in France. Should have talk with her.

Brilliant idea! Start war, send inbred former bastard to command, give him too few troops. If he gets killed, grandson can inherit. Maybe Pope will start another crusade?

Possibly can get inbred former bastard angry enough to rebel (again). Will give away many estates to other nobles, none to him. Future generations will call me Haakon the Magnanimous.

Dammit! Subjects calling me Haakon the Fat. All because I like a good meal now and again.

At least I'm not Haakon the Clueless. Cannot say same for inbred former bastard. Will get new spymaster, try again to have him killed.

In other news, King of Sweden's son appears to be sodomite. Not sure if this is good news or bad for second daughter. Oh well, too late to call off marriage.

Lost Orleans to own daughter. (Technically to son-in-law, but who are we kidding.) Somewhat embarrassing. On bright side, if only can bump off inbred former bastard, grandson will be King of Norway, Denmark, Croatia, Poland, England, and France.

Unfortunately, inbred former bastard's maternal grandmother appears to have been cockroach. No amount of stomping will get rid of him.

Crusade, again. Bringing inbred former bastard along in hopes of getting him killed. Not contributing as much money this time, though; do not need more troublesome Holy Land duchies. Hoping instead Pope will like me enough to excommunicate inbred former bastard. Would make murdering him easier.

Memo to self: do not believe peddlers advertising Spear of Destiny for sale.

Forgot to arrange betrothal for third daughter. Have sent her to convent instead. See above re: needing Pope's good opinion.

News from France somewhat alarming. Rebellion against daughter, put down with ruthless efficiency. Fear she has designs on other lands. Would not mind if she murdered inbred former bastard, but could be problematic if she also tries to murder me.

Dammit -- why is she a daughter and not a son? Could solve all my problems if I were Basque.

On second thought, no. Being Basque is terrible.

Inbred former bastard now has bastards of his own. At least their mother is not one of my daughters.

. . . I hope. Might have a few bastard daughters out there, too.

Health failing. Reign over four kingdoms and too many smaller territories to count, but cannot rule own body. Or own offspring, for that matter. Daughter's ambitions increasing. Inbred former bastard's intelligence decreasing, assuming he ever had any.

Alarming rumours from Spain and Africa about strangers with many feathers on heads. Too tired to investigate. Let daughter deal with them; she's good at that sort of thing.

She should have been a son.

I hope future generations remember me at all.

Anointed king today by the bishop in Nidaros Cathedral. Praise be to God, through whom all things are possible, who in his heavenly wisdom granted me the thrones of Norway, Denmark, Croatia, Poland, England, France, and Mali. May I rule wisely and well, doing honor to my father on earth and my Father in Heaven, and be remembered after my passing as Robert the Great.

I'm going to be the best king ever.